Uber hires first chief privacy officer as it continues brand clean up

The appointments follow on from a case settled by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in April / Uber

Uber has poached Intel's chief privacy and security counsel, Ruby Zefo, as its first ever chief privacy officer, with the appointment coming just eight months after the ride-hailing app was accused of attempting to hide a data breach that affected some 57 million users.

Amid the implementation of the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the startup has also enlisted Simon Hania as data protection officer, with the exec joining from TomTom where he was vice-president of privacy and security.

The high-profile hires were made known to staff via an email on Wednesday in which Uber's chief legal officer Tony West told employees that Zefo would fill "a critical global role responsible for the development and implementation of privacy standards, procedures, and processes" in every market Uber operates.

The appointments follow on from a case settled by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in April. The investigation concerned claims that Uber had deceived customers about a 2016 breach in which hackers stole the personal information more than 50 million people.

Uber is thought have paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the data. Now, it's been told it must notify the FTC in event of a data breach, with recently-instanced chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi saying he had launched his own probe into why the company didn't alert law enforcement at the time of the hack.

Khosrowshahi who has sought to position the Uber brand in a new light following a series of PR disasters and scandals under the old guard. In the US he has invested heavily in apology ads, while in the UK he's funneled spend into campaigns reassuring users they can trust their drivers.

Under the watch of former chief executive Travis Kalanick the San Francisco-headquartered company endured a series of PR disasters, including a scathing memo that exposed a toxic workplace where sexual harassment and discrimination were openly ignored.

This ultimately led to Kalanick's exit, but then months later the data leak brought the brand into further disrepute.

The firm also had an internal spy unit exposed in 2017, and has been the subject of government investigations on both sides of the Atlantic. It's also been repeatedly fighting lawsuits to limit the rights of its drivers and media coverage around the safety of women traveling alone using its service.

More recently it's faced a battle over its licence in London.

Now as Uber marches towards a rumoured IPO it is without a marketing boss following the departure of ex-Apple exec Bozoma Saint John.

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